Liam had an awesome end of the year performance with his kindergarden class! They sang, they danced, they awed us! The performances here in Japan are quite different than America. Liam’s kindergarden had a full-blown orchestra!!! We’re so proud of this kid!
I just returned from a three day trip up north to Sendai, Japan delivering food, clothes, water, and gas to the local churches, in order to meet the needs of the community. I really can’t express in words what I’ve seen of the devastation to this country and people I love so much. I walked along the beach littered with massive sea containers, and remnant belongings from people’s lives. A single soccer shoe. A stuffed doll. A wedding album. All thrown into the piles of debris that shattered power lines, trees, and houses in half. I stood there speechless, snapping photos, and couldn’t help but weep and pray. Warm tears streamed down my face, not just because people lost houses and possessions, but even more that they lost eternity spent with Jesus. The areas hardest hit by the earthquake, are the least churched in Japan. How many, of the 28,000 dead and missing didn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Every year, 35,000 Japanese commit suicide because they lack purpose, hope, and joy that can only be found in Christ.
As we drove through what used to be a very wealthy neighborhood, all that remained were the foundations of the previous homes. I talked with one family (pic attached above), that was very kind, and let me take a picture of them standing in front of the foundation of their home. It is all that is left. It reminded me of that hymn we sing sometimes…”My hope is built on NOTHING less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…on CHRIST the SOLID rock I stand, ALL other ground is sinking sand”. More than people losing homes, water and electricity, and sons, is the desperate need for the TRUTH of Jesus Christ. He is their firm foundation, that will not be shaken. Continue to PRAY for God’s kingdom to come quickly here in Japan.
Grace and Peace in Christ from broken but beautiful Japan,
Matt, Carly, and the boys
Yesterday I had the opportunity and blessing of delivering 1000 liters of fresh water and 500 rice balls to the people of Ueda, a small town hit by the tsunami. Ueda, has had electricity but no water for a week now. The government has done little to supply the need as it isn’t one of the worst hit areas.
When we arrived, we were disappointed when we went to a school where only 15 displaced people were staying. They took a few rice balls and water packs and thanked us-not quite the need we were told it was. Then, the head of the group said, “You all have so much, why don’t we announce you’re here to the town over the loudspeaker and let people come get it”. Within minutes people were running with water buckets, bottles, trash cans, anything they could find to collect water in. Our truck was completely surrounded with people teary eyed and grateful to receive whatever we could give. There were many elderly people, so I ended up carrying lots of water directly to their homes and talking with them. They bowed and thanked us endlessly when they heard we were from Chiba-(4 hours away) and part of the Christian church there. One lady said, “It’s so sad…the government says we won’t have water until sometime in April. Everyone has forgotten about us”. I told gently told her “We haven’t forgotten about you”.
As we finished giving out all the water we had, I couldn’t help but think of how Jesus said “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty again”
People DO need water here, but what they need more is water for their souls that only Jesus can give. People are heartbroken and discouraged over their country, their family, their lives. I want them to have life to fullest and taste of the water like I have, so they may experience HOPE, JOY, and GRACE. Until then I will continue to supply people with water, encouragement, and hope that can only come through Jesus. Please continue to GIVE to, PRAY for, and LOVE Japan with me.
We went to several 花火大会（hanabi-taikai) which is are large gatherings of people to eat food, be with family, and watch fireworks. Japanese take their firework shows very seriously so they’re usually well planned out, and tens of thousands show up to watch them. Hanabi-taikais happen in July and August so if you’re visiting us in the summer you’ll get to go with us! We went with some of our friends to Chiba’s hanabi-taikai…
We also went to some of the summer festivals in the different cities. We usually dressed the boys up in their じんべい (jinbei) which is informal summer clothing for guys. We thought they looked quite handsome:
One of the highlights of our summer was to help out with the one week VBS outreach at our church. Over 80 kids came to learn about Jesus and have fun! We really enjoyed seeing new faces and making new friends. Carly also taught a baking class for the moms, so they could rest from all the high-paced activity.
Summer is one of the busiest times for our team with ministry outreaches, events, and summer interns coming and going. We made a lot of new friends and were so glad that SO many came to serve Jesus here by loving this country and the community we’re in. We’re excited for God to raise up more to come serve a lifetime here for His glory!
We PRAISE God for a wonderful summer!